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  #1  
Old 01-02-23, 17:24
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default Besa

I have a photo of what looks like a Besa MG on a carrier of B Sqn 7th Recce in the Netherlands in 1945. Were there many examples of Besas on carriers?
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  #2  
Old 06-02-23, 02:59
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default Besa on carrier

My original post has attracted no replies, which makes me think that it was highly unusual/unheard of to equip a carrier with a Besa. I have attached a photo sent me by a Dutch historian. It shows B Sqn 7th Recce in Oldeboorn (Friesland Prov) on 15 April 1945. Several people have identified the MG as a Besa. The two 7RR vehicles equipped with Besa were Humber IVs and Daimlers. The Humbers disappeared from the unit by Nov. Before they left some unit members may have decided to retain one or more of the Besas. A mystery.
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  #3  
Old 06-02-23, 13:22
Bruce Parker Bruce Parker is offline
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A dismounted BESA sounds rare. The question would be why when there were lots of other options (Bren, M2HB, M1919A4) that were used and seen quite frequently. The other issue I see with the BESA is the mount. In armoured vehicles the mount is typically a bronze or cast cradle the gun slides into. This would make it very difficult mounting on a carrier without an improvised mount. I would also argue that the BEAS taking a unique 7.92 cartridge would lead to ammunition supply problems.
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  #4  
Old 06-02-23, 19:00
Patrice DEBUCQUOY Patrice DEBUCQUOY is offline
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hello,

I don't think 7.92 x 57 appro was a problem : it's the same as the German Mauser one, so plentifull in NWE .

Cheers,
Patrice.

Last edited by Patrice DEBUCQUOY; 06-02-23 at 20:05.
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  #5  
Old 06-02-23, 20:12
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default Besa on carrier

Lt Walter G. Pavey was a very experienced troop leader in "B" Sqn, 7th Recce (he landed in Normandy on 6 June in command of a contact detachment). By November, when the Humber IVs were withdrawn, the unit was in the middle of a 4-month spell of relative quiet, billeted on the Maas. Lots of time for the fitters to removed the Besas from the Humbers and prepare mounts for them on carriers. In 1948 Pavey wrote that the Besa was a "wicked little weapon...without a doubt, one of the most demoralizing pieces of equipment owned and operated by the regiment." He may well have been the instigator of equipping one or more carriers with a weapon he admired. I am still puzzled at the apparent lack of other examples of Besas on carriers.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-23, 20:48
Ed Storey Ed Storey is offline
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Default 7.92mm BESA MGs

As Bruce stated in an earlier post, the mounting for a BESA would have to be improvised and the weapon used 7.92mm ammunition which is probably why you don't see these guns festuned on Universal Carriers. Looking at the Canadain Army, not every regiment would have access to BESA MGs, mostly the Reconnaissance Regiments using British BESA armed armed cars; so they would not have been that plentiful when compared to M1919A4s or even M2 MGs. And as we have already seen in another post, people did not just go and willy-nilly adding MGs to their carriers, the amount and types of weapons employed by military units, even during a war, was controlled - so scrounging BESAs by just anyone who found one to slap on a Universal Carrier is a bit of 'wives tale'.

Another 'wives tale' is the myth that captured enemy ammunition could have been used to feed the BESA, well there were also regulations against using captured enemy ammunition. Enemy ammunition was to be gathered up and handled by the Ordnance Corps were it would be inspected and tested for 'potential' reallocation through the approapriate supply chain.

M1919A4 and M2 MGs were already in widespread use in the Canadian Army so it is only natural that you would see these guns mounted to Universal Carriers and not a BESA. You also have to remember that units authorized to hold M1919A4 and M2 MGs would also have been allotted the ammunition to go with them. Something that would not happen if an unauthorized BESA MG were mounted on a Carrier.
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  #7  
Old 07-02-23, 03:06
maple_leaf_eh maple_leaf_eh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Kellett View Post
Lt Walter G. Pavey was a very experienced troop leader in "B" Sqn, 7th Recce (he landed in Normandy on 6 June in command of a contact detachment). By November, when the Humber IVs were withdrawn, the unit was in the middle of a 4-month spell of relative quiet, billeted on the Maas. Lots of time for the fitters to removed the Besas from the Humbers and prepare mounts for them on carriers. In 1948 Pavey wrote that the Besa was a "wicked little weapon...without a doubt, one of the most demoralizing pieces of equipment owned and operated by the regiment." He may well have been the instigator of equipping one or more carriers with a weapon he admired. I am still puzzled at the apparent lack of other examples of Besas on carriers.
The answer is ammunition supply, as Ed asks. The BESA was very British and unique to armoured regiments. As Tony mentions above the usual vehicles equipped with BESAs were armoured cars, but by this date had been withdrawn. We know supplying Canadian tankers was on the British model. But wouldn't the DCO and all the echelons have wanted to keep simplifying their supply chains, not keeping one odd nature going up?

From photos of the Staghounds in Canadian service, there are shots of ones and twos carrying sections of bridging. Tarp rolls, ammo boxes, camp cots and kit bags all over their call signs, but placed to leave the crews ready to engage as required. That tells me their crews were quite accustomed to living well forward and outrunning their supply lines. And that the echelon was staging loaded trucks as far forward as safe, waiting for a call or written orders for a cautious meeting for resupply. How would the truck at the tippy end of the supply column know to load rations, water, SRD, grenades, belted 30-06 and belted 7.92, besides the usual fuel, oil and greases?
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  #8  
Old 07-02-23, 20:40
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default 7th Recce MGs

Our own research has convinced us that the MG mounted on the carrier in Oldeboorn is indeed a Besa. None of the replies to my posts have disputed this. Given the problems (mainly associated with ammunition supply) with using a Besa, raised by several of you, it seems very safe to say that this use of a Besa was very rare indeed, possibly unique. The guiding hand of Lt Pavey seems evident. He must have been good friends with quartermaster Capt John Thom and the fitters. Pavey wrote the 1948 history of 7th Recce and included photos of .30 and .50 cal MGs with the unit in Normandy.
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  #9  
Old 08-02-23, 19:23
Ed Storey Ed Storey is offline
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Default BESA mounted on Universal Carrier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Kellett View Post
Were there many examples of Besas on carriers?
Was your original question which why no-one disputed that a BESA certainly appears to be mounted to a Universal Carrier in the photograph you provided. Too bad there isn't a better image of exactly how the MG was mounted to the Carrier.
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  #10  
Old 08-02-23, 23:05
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default Besa on carriers

I was looking for confirmation of our belief that the weapon in the photo was a Besa, and also trying to ascertain how common this practice was. It seems to have been very rare, possibly unique.
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  #11  
Old 09-02-23, 05:33
Michael R. Michael R. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Kellett View Post
My original post has attracted no replies, which makes me think that it was highly unusual/unheard of to equip a carrier with a ______ .
Anthony: consider reposting on FB Universal/Bren Carrier group.

Lack of exposure, lack of interest in the value of engaging you by others may not necessarily support your thought of BESA on universal carriers being unheard of.
.
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  #12  
Old 09-02-23, 11:09
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Would that be the same vehicle or a different one? There is just about in the two photos that overlaps so you can say whether or not it is, and I’m not good enough at recognising strangers’ faces to decide if the same people are in the vehicle I think the standing guy wearing the pulled-back beret and overalls is the same in both, but I’m far from sure.
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  #13  
Old 09-02-23, 12:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Kellett View Post
In 1948 Pavey wrote that the Besa was a "wicked little weapon...without a doubt, one of the most demoralizing pieces of equipment owned and operated by the regiment."
While the effectiveness of the BESA would be broadly similar to an M1919 Browning (BESA had 2 rates of fire; 500rpm or 800rpm, Browning was 500rpm), the real difference lay in the supplied ammunition. The BESA was more intended as an Armour weapon, and was fed anti-armour ammunition in a combination belt of Armour Piercing, Incendiary, Tracer and Ball, and while such individual ammunition types were available for the 30-06 Browning, it was not typically supplied in a mixed belt.
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  #14  
Old 09-02-23, 16:31
Michael R. Michael R. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakko Westerbeke View Post
Would that be the same vehicle or a different one? There is just about in the two photos that overlaps so you can say whether or not it is, and I’m not good enough at recognising strangers’ faces to decide if the same people are in the vehicle I think the standing guy wearing the pulled-back beret and overalls is the same in both, but I’m far from sure.
Hi Jakko
there are similarities in the modified/updated vehicle model, as well as crew headdress. Have a look at the coveralls with and without hood and revisit the images? Regrets I have not identified the source or description.

I recall other images of BESA guns repurposed into universal carriers: New Zealand Māori troops comes to mind.

Updated 09 Feb 2023: Māori BESA January, 1943 & July, 1944.
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C86878A0-DC06-4207-8CED-8C2A84EF7A0E.jpg   1045B732-1195-4E0D-8C1A-E0C4843102BF.jpg  

Last edited by Michael R.; 12-02-23 at 17:18.
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  #15  
Old 09-02-23, 19:25
Lynn Eades Lynn Eades is offline
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Michael, I believe the Maori Battalion Carrier picture shows a 50 cal. We had some 200+ Valentine tanks during WWII and they were fitted with Besa M.G.s.
Maybe you are referring to a different photo?
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  #16  
Old 09-02-23, 20:13
Michael R. Michael R. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Eades View Post
Michael, I believe the Maori Battalion Carrier picture shows a 50 cal. We had some 200+ Valentine tanks during WWII and they were fitted with Besa M.G.s.
Maybe you are referring to a different photo?
Hello Lynn,
yes, thanks. I know we discussed this previously: these fighters had been victims of fratricide, now shown with enhanced allied recognition symbol.

Imagine the signature the aircraft Browning could produce !
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  #17  
Old 10-02-23, 01:35
maple_leaf_eh maple_leaf_eh is offline
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Default pronunciation

One of my favorite YouTubers is a PhD historian Mark Felton. I've mentioned him here before. Not long ago I rewatched a piece he did on the introduction of the Centurion in spring 1945. He pronounced BESA as Bay-za. The only other form I'd ever heard was Bee-za. Anyone know the correct way?
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  #18  
Old 10-02-23, 03:23
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I've only heard it as "Bee-Sah", but have noted that it seems to be written as BESA, not Besa, as if it is an acronym. However, like BREN, it has become a word of it's own. The name is derived from the initials of the Birmingham Small Arms factory, BSA, who licence built the Czech designed ZB53, so it is unlikely to be "Bay-Sa".
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  #19  
Old 10-02-23, 07:08
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I've owned and ridden BSA motorcycles all my riding life. Amongst the community they have always been referred to affectionately as Beeza's

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Ron
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  #20  
Old 10-02-23, 10:56
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Eades View Post
Michael, I believe the Maori Battalion Carrier picture shows a 50 cal.
Both of the Carriers in Michaelís photos have 7.92 mm Besas, by the looks of it, and the one pictures from the right front has (I think) a Vickers machine gun in the hull front instead of a Bren.
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  #21  
Old 10-02-23, 13:42
Bruce Parker Bruce Parker is offline
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Wartime, or any historical, pronunciation can be interesting and not always what it is today. When you listen to old films or news stories you often hear a weird way of saying something, but is this just the reporter taking on a reporter's persona? You have to admit there was a very peculiar way they spoke.

One case in point, our famous (and still surviving) Tribal class destroyer HMCS Haida is now pronounced 'Hi-duh' but apparently throughout her service she was pronounced 'Hey-duh'.
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  #22  
Old 10-02-23, 13:46
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Default Eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Parker View Post
Wartime, or any historical, pronunciation can be interesting and not always what it is today. When you listen to old films or news stories you often hear a weird way of saying something, but is this just the reporter taking on a reporter's persona? You have to admit there was a very peculiar way they spoke.

One case in point, our famous (and still surviving) Tribal class destroyer HMCS Haida is now pronounced 'Hi-duh' but apparently throughout her service she was pronounced 'Hey-duh'.
I reckon Canadians would call it a Bee-za-eh?
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  #23  
Old 11-02-23, 10:59
Jakko Westerbeke Jakko Westerbeke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Parker View Post
Wartime, or any historical, pronunciation can be interesting and not always what it is today.
And that confuses a lot of people, when they donít seem to realise pronunciation shifts over time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Parker View Post
One case in point, our famous (and still surviving) Tribal class destroyer HMCS Haida is now pronounced 'Hi-duh' but apparently throughout her service she was pronounced 'Hey-duh'.
That one, technically speaking, is easy enough: /ˈhaɪdə/ ó or, in non-IPA English phonetics: HI-duh, like the original pronunciation
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  #24  
Old 11-02-23, 11:54
Lynn Eades Lynn Eades is offline
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Jakko, for the record Michael posted at 04.31 without photos.
I posted at 07.25 not knowing what photo/s he was referring to.
Michael edited his post at 08.04 and I assume that's when the photos went up.
You posted at 22.56 and without close scrutiny, would not have noticed.
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  #25  
Old 11-02-23, 12:53
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Default Besa's

It looks like all the photos show Besa's MkIII as they do not have any lightning holes along the sides. I would rather carry a Vickers tripod around all day than a Besa.
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  #26  
Old 08-03-23, 17:20
Anthony Kellett Anthony Kellett is offline
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Default Besa

Thanks to all who have viewed and/or responded to this thread. Edwin Meinsma, the Dutch historian who sent the original photo of the "B"/7th Recce carrier with a Besa, has since sent another. This one, from two days later and in a different location, shows another 7RR carrier with Besa. This vehicle is most likely from "C" Sqn. If so, this improvization may not have been down to a single fan of Besas (Lt Pavey) but may have been more widely done in the unit. The war diary of the 62nd LAD, attached to 7th Recce, is not online, so I propose to visit the archives to see if the war diary can shed more light on this question. Tony
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